Have you ever had an accident or medical issue that has caused you to be unable to workout or do the activities you love? Just before Christmas I was rear ended and although it wasn’t a major accident I am recovering from soft tissues injuries that have caused me not to be able to workout.
I LOVE to dance and have been going to Zumba twice a week for a long time ,and although I haven’t been able to exercise for just about 2 months now, it feels like os much longer. Exercise is my therapy, it is the way I give myself a break from negative mental self talk and the space in which I love my body for all that it can do for me.
Not being able to go to my regular Zumba classes or really get a good sweat in changes the way I feel about my body and the way I feel about my world. For the first few weeks to a month it was almost fun. I had an excuse to laze about and do indulgent things, like catch up on my favourite tv shows, but after a while the novelty wears off.
After a few more weeks it becomes depressing. Your body starts to feel weak and you find yourself craving foods you know aren’t good for you on a regular basis or watching your friends Instagram posts and feeling envy at their 10K runs or their weekend snowboard trips and hikes. With this in mind I have been combing the internet and consulting with specialists for ways to stay active when you can’t really exercise like you normally would:
Use that Fitbit!
One of the things I am trying to keep consistent on is keeping up my steps. Pre injury I was able to maintain an average of 13 thousand steps a day or approximately 10 km. Now that I am injured my overall goal is to find ways to hit that mark while not participating in Zumba, but if I can’t I’m not hard on myself. Instead, I commit to a base daily goal of 10,000 steps to ensure that I keep from becoming sedentary in my healing journey.
Yoga, yoga, yoga.
I have never been much of yoga girl. I loved it when I first started in middle school, it gave me a moment of peace in my day and helped me clear my head in a way I could only find when I was dancing. Middle school was when my anxiety first came out in full force and I spent a lot of my energy trying to hide it and cope, and so yoga became a great option for me. As I got older and more intensive forms of yoga became popular, the practice lost its calming qualities but recently I discovered Bedtime Yoga and it has been such a blessing. The only form of exercise I have been able to continue consistently throughout the healing process is restorative or bedtime yoga. This practice not only gently stretches your muscles, while also putting you in a calm and meditative state, it also helps you learn to isolate and relax specific muscle groups.
Integrate activity back in SLOWLY.
As I start to recover, and with the advice of my physiotherapist, I am starting to incorporate the activities I love back into my life. One of the best pieces of advice you receive after being in a motor vehicle accident, especially one in which you are rear ended, is that you need to remain active. In the past it was believed that soft tissue injuries, especially whiplash of the neck and upper back, required isolation and resting of the muscles to heal. Now it is scientifically recognized that moving your muscles and slowly returning to normal activity is the best thing you can do to get back your range of motion and strength. With that in mind I am slowly getting back to dance. I am starting with 10 minutes of Zumba after a 30 minute walk. As the 10 minutes get easier I will begin to add another 5 mins every couple of sessions until I am back to my full hour-long Zumba classes.
Consult with an expert.
The last time I got rear ended I worked with my physiotherapist on at home exercises, with resistance bands and small weights, to gain my strength back. This time round ,I have a different physiotherapist who has advised me that the best thing to do is to work with her and a kinesiologist, who will help me to customize an exercise routine to gain back my strength and get back to the things I love faster.
Have patience and be kind.
During this recovery process I have found myself realizing just how large a role exercise plays in my life and weekly routine. Without my weekly workouts I found myself slowly but surely eating more treats, gaining weight and feeling negatively about myself and my body. The way you feel can greatly affect the way you approach the life you live, and so the first step for me was not to beat myself up about my eating or my weight gain but to be kind to myself and thank my body for all it does for me. I am healing nicely and moving in the direction of the things I love, slowly but surely. I am committed to healing and getting stronger. I do my best everyday to remain active and live a healthy lifestyle. My body might be slightly bigger than before my accident but it is still beautiful, strong and acts as my reliable foundation in this life. The more active I get the more this body will respond and the stronger it will grow. So all I can do right now is love myself, commit to getting better and remain positive during this healing journey.